Did you know that Virginia currently has among the weakest utility disconnection protections for customers of any state in the Southeast -- including customers who are vulnerable or medically compromised?

There are two bills before Virginia’s General Assembly that would stop gas, electric, and water utilities from cutting off services during crises and during very hot, cold and extreme weather. They would ban utilities from charging households for disconnecting and reconnecting their accounts. And they would require utilities to delay shutoffs for a 60-day period for households having people with disabilities, seniors and infants.

Some of our neighbors most impacted and financially burdened by utility bills are those in low-income families and communities of color. The electricity burden (the percentage a household spends on electricity) is higher in Virginia than the national average and is unaffordable for 75% of households. These bills expand protections in times of crisis, like flooding and pandemics, for families financially burdened by utility bills.

The bills would help limit disconnections and ensure life-saving access to those who need gas, electric and water services the most.

If you believe these are needed changes to Virginia’s law, contact your elected officials and tell them to vote for HB 664 and HB 1054. Contact information for Delegates Wilt, Gilbert, Runion, and Avoli is at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/members/members.php, and for State Senators Obenshain, Hanger, and Vogel is https://apps.senate.virginia.gov/Senator/index.php.

Joy Loving

Grottoes

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